Gold: Czech- Someone has to pick them. Not dominating or glamorous, but a very balanced team with good mix. Believe they are one of four best teams, but will have work cut for them to finish top 4 in tough group.
Keys- Vokoun even with a solid defense has to be great, Jagr playing more like 28 than 38, young forwards must be a threat.
Silver: Canada- A legitimate favorite with home ice.
Keys- Team chemistry, star forwards stepping up in crunch time, playing great under pressure.
Bronze: Sweden- Plenty of star power on a balanced team.
Keys- Veterans leading on ice and staying healthy, Lundqvist playing like last Olympics.
In an even briefer tournament than usual, the teams that gel best and get great goaltending will be the favorites. I picked what I believed are the three best teams in terms of not just talent, but balance, experience and chemistry. Russia has great talent, but defense is questionable. Either they will overpower with their talent on offense, or fall to a more balanced and defensive team.
Most likely to surprise: Czech, Finland
Most likely to disappoint: Russia, USA
Biggest game before final day of group: Czech vs. Slovakia
Worst schedule: Slovakia playing Czech, then Russia the next day.
Best defensive battle: USA vs. Switzerland?
Best offensive show: Russia vs. Slovakia?
Worst schedule part 2: Four teams without day off before quarterfinals.
Should be an exciting, surprising tournament, although may be mostly uneventful until the final day of groups. This may be the final Olympics for some of the biggest stars of the past 20 years, so should be a great one!
Well it can't look like that either. Kazakhstan didn't even qualify.
Gold: Canada. It's their home ice. Massive homefield advantage from the crowd. Deepest team. Most talent. Best coach. No reason they should lose.
Silver: Russia. I think they have enough to beat the Swedes if they meet in the semis.
Bronze: Sweden. Beats Finland or the U.S. in the bronze medal game.
Russia is simply not balanced enough to win the Gold. Vancouver has the horses to check Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Malkin, and Datsyuk but Russia doesn't have much to muster up against Canada's best. How are players like Grebeshkov, Nikulin, and Kalinin going to defend against the likes of Crosby, Getzlaf, Thornton, Heatley, Marleau, and Nash?
Sweden is a very well balanced team with just enough top-end talent, at every position, to challenge for Gold.
Last edited by nowhereman: 02-13-2010 at 01:29 AM.
Yes Russia has a great top 5-6 forwards but after that Canada kills them on lines 3/4. I'm not one bit sold on the defence that Russia has assembled. Tyutin? Nikulin? Grebeshkov? Kalinin? After Markov/Gonchar I dont think the bottom two pairings will be able to hold up against Canada's 4 balanced lines.